Model Lauren Scruggs on how her horrific accident has helped her become who she is today

People respond to personal tragedy in their own ways; some shut down, others turn to faith, while many seek out their own "Eat, Pray, Love" moment. Others, like Lauren Scruggs, are forced to address their tragedy head on, in the rawest way possible. 

The model was just 23-years-old when she walked into a plane's propeller in the dark, losing an eye, a hand and suffering brain damage. Because her tragic story made news headlines that night, the California native has taken an open and vulnerable approach to addressing her near-death experience with the world. 

"The story became really public the night of, without our control. We were kind of placed in that position," Scruggs told AOL Lifestyle. "So that kind of kept me in that mindset that my story can help people. It's already out there so why not share it myself?" 

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Lauren Scruggs out and about
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Lauren Scruggs out and about
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 07: Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy arrives at the "The Gallows" Los Angeles Premiere at Hollywood High School on July 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy headlined T.J.Maxx’s “The Changing Room” Pop-up Event as part of the Maxx You Project – a program encouraging women to embrace their individuality and the changes that come with it on June 26, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for T.J.Maxx)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy headlined T.J.Maxx’s “The Changing Room” Pop-up Event as part of the Maxx You Project – a program encouraging women to embrace their individuality and the changes that come with it on June 26, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for T.J.Maxx)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 29: Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy attend G By Giuliana/HSN New Collection Launch Event at Beverly Hills Hotel on January 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for HSN)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy attends Summer '18 Box of Style by Rachel Zoe Soiree at Hotel Bel Air on June 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Box of Style by Rachel Zoe)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy attends Summer '18 Box of Style by Rachel Zoe Soiree at Hotel Bel Air on June 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Box of Style by Rachel Zoe)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: (L-R) Kaitlyn Bristowe, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Evelyn Torres, Hang Nyugen, and Aysha Sow attend the PANDORA Jewelry Shine Collection Launch with Ciara on March 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Pandora Jewelry)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy attends the PANDORA Jewelry Shine Collection Launch with Ciara on March 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Pandora Jewelry)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy attends the PANDORA Jewelry Shine Collection Launch with Ciara on March 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Pandora Jewelry)
VENICE, CA - MARCH 08: Lauren Scruggs Kennedy and Sarah Dubbeldam attend International Women's Day hosted by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla on March 08, 2018 in Venice, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/ Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04: Arielle Vandenberg (L) and Lauren Scruggs attend the Fossil x The Amber Interiors Launch Dinner at Lombardi House on October 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Fossil)
MIAMI BEACH - JUNE 10: Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs seen out and about at the beach on June 10, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by MTMI/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH - JUNE 10: Lauren Scruggs seen out and about at the beach on June 10, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by MTMI/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: TV Personality Shan Boody and Journalist Lauren Scruggs speak onstage during Beautycon Festival NYC 2017 on at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal May 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Beautycon)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Lauren Scruggs arrives to the 7th Annual "Night Of Generosity" Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
NBCUNIVERSAL UPFRONT -- ?2016 Upfront Party at MoMA in New York City on Monday, May 16, 2016" -- Pictured: (l-r) Jason Kennedy, ?E! News? on E! Entertainment, Lauren Scruggs -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 04: Fashion blogger/model Lauren Scruggs attends Rebecca Minkkoff's "See Now, Buy Now" fashion show at The Grove on February 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Fashion journalist and blogger Lauren Scruggs Kennedy attends the 7th Annual 'Night of Generosity' Gala benefiting generosity.org at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Fashion journalist Lauren Scruggs (L) and entertainment reporter Jason Kennedy arrive at the 7th Annual "Night Of Generosity" Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 07: Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy attend the premiere of "The Gallows" at Hollywood High School on July 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 07: Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy attend the premiere of "The Gallows" at Hollywood High School on July 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeff Scruggs, Cheryl Scruggs, Lauren Scruggs and Savannah Guthrie appear on NBC News' "Today" show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeff Scruggs, Cheryl Scruggs and Lauren Scruggs appear on NBC News' "Today" show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Lauren Scruggs appears on NBC News' "Today" show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Lauren Scruggs attends the 2012 Charity Day Hosted By Cantor Fitzgerald And BGC Partners on September 11, 2012 in New York, United States. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
DATELINE -- Pictured: (l-r) Fashion blogger Lauren Scruggs who was badly injured when she walked into an airplane propeller talks to Natalie Morales in her first primetime interview since the event -- (Photo by: Peter Larsen/NBC/NBCU PHoto Bank)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Lauren Scruggs attends Cantor Fitzgerald & BGC Partners host annual charity day on 9/11 to benefit over 100 charities worldwide at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie, Lauren Scruggs on August 9, 2012 -- (Photo by: Warrick Page/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie, Gabby Douglas, Lauren Scruggs on August 9, 2012 -- (Photo by: Warrick Page/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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Of course, months and months of mental rehabilitation helped get Scruggs, now 30, to where she is today, but her perspective on these adversities has evolved quite dramatically over the past seven years. 

"I think when you're in the middle of it, initially you're just in shock a little bit and you're just trying to survive and you're just in a totally different mentality," she explained. "But as time goes on you just heal more emotionally and physically and in every aspect of your life." 

"Now I can look back and be like 'Oh my gosh, I'm so grateful for that time because it helped me grow so much as a person'."

With the support of her family, husband Jason Kennedy (she was introduced to the E! host through Giulianna Rancic) and books (she counts Present Over Perfect and Forever as most formative), Scruggs has accomplished so much in the wake of tragedy.

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Lauren Scruggs on Instagram
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Lauren Scruggs on Instagram
I could not be more excited to work with @tjmaxx on the #MaxxYouProject - a program all about supporting women’s individual journey’s! 🙌🏻💗 #relatable. I’ll be sharing my own journey at an incredible pop-up called The Changing Room in NYC... wanna know what it’s all about?! 😊 go to www.maxxyouproject.com and of course, more from me on this later! #ad
nyc days with my mom are always the sweetest days + this plant based ice cream is 💯
my bestie since kindergarten is married!!!✨👰🏼 the most special wedding weekend in all the land - love you shan and nick! _ and happy father’s day to my sweet daddyo!💙 it’s extra special getting to celebrate him today! #ytok #happyfathersday
my @thestrandedshop partner in crime.💛 have you tried our dry shampoo? it comes in blonde, brunette, and red head shades + it is full of clean ingredients! _ p.s. we are coming out with a new product in just a few months!🕺🏻 can you guess what it is?
jase always forgets his shades in the sun but he wears mine pretty well 😉😆
a cozy day in LA.🌥
what is everyone doing this memorial day weekend? 🇺🇸 my summer state of mind is already in full gear and I am so expectant of this sweet season spent savoring moments of rest and new adventures with my guy, our friends, and our families. _ and side-note, how could this light & bright layer not make me dream of summer? 💛 the color seriously brings me so much joy and is the perfect light layer for summer athleisure. _ to shop this look, follow my @liketoknow.it profile 🛍 http://liketk.it/2C1yI #liketkit
idaho weekends with my 💙
I couldn’t love celebrating my sister more and sweet baby belle on the way.🤰🏻and it was extra fun surprising my mom and getting to spend the best two days with her. _ so grateful to have the most intentional, loving mom who is my best friend and has taught me the importance of vulnerability and growing in and enjoying every phase of life. _ and Bertie, I have learned more than you know from watching you parent kate with so much grace, consistency, and joyful love! 💗 love you both so much. 🌼 happy mother’s day!
the best birthday party of all time.🎊 we all loved celebrating you @seanwolfington! 💙
we got some quality Easter pics yesterday.😆🌼🐥💗
☀️☀️☀️vitamin d is my favorite vitamin by far. _ to shop this look, follow my @liketoknow.it profile on the app!👙 http://liketk.it/2AP89 #liketkit
I like today.☀️
spring vibes.🌷
summer is here for a minute, and I am soaking up that sunshine.🌞
cherished every minute with my mom this weekend in OC hearing @christinecaine share so much wisdom + so grateful for our conversations and some rest time.🙌🏻 p.s. we tried to sit out in the sun and realized it’s definitely still winter. #ootd 😆
my favorite sale of the year = the @shopbop sale!♥️ are you shopping? visit my insta stories to see my top choices!
I was cleaning out my photo album on my phone this morning when we were flying home, and I came across so many pictures like this that made me really excited for summer! ☀️ anyone feel the same way?
When @lululemon and @soulcycle create an activewear collection, it is 💯 + work out gear inspires me to exercise! 🏃🏼‍♀️ who’s with me? #lululemon #soulcycle #ad
I couldn’t help myself and had to do a #MarriageMonday a day late 😉 I thought I’d celebrate with a little love list of some of the reasons why I just love being married. {link in profile}
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Perhaps one of the most meaningful is her willingness to share her experience with other women navigating their own struggles, which was most recently on display at The Maxx You Project's The Changing Room panel this week.

"Now I just feel more empowered and I have the ability to relate more to people, because everyone goes through something difficult, whatever level that may be, so I'm thankful," she explained.

T.J. Maxx is taking The Changing Room on the road; tour dates will be announced later this summer! 

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